Great Beer in Hawai'i

The craft beer scene has been slower to pick up in Hawai'i than elsewhere, which makes sense if you think about it. The islands are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, more than 2,000 miles from the nearest continental land mass. Hops can't be grown there, and shipping ain't cheap. Tourists want fruity cocktails, while locals go for macrobrews.

That being said, in recent years great beers from California and Oregon have surfaced (Breakside and Pelican are two of my favorites that are available in Honolulu but not San Diego). Even better, local breweries are now popping up and embedding themselves in the community.

My wife is from Hawai'i and we still have lots of family over there, so we make one or two trips a year. People always ask what we do there, probably hoping for tales of snorkeling, zip-lining, or whatever it is we're expected to do. But usually we just visit folks, eat tasty local food, and hang out at breweries.

We stay at my brother-in-law's place, and he lives just around the corner from Waikiki Brewing Company, which mercifully is only on the edge of Waikiki and largely devoid of tourists. (To be clear, I have nothing against tourists, I just don't like crowds.) We can walk there in 15-20 minutes and enjoy a pint of their English Brown Ale, which has all the malty goodness I crave. Their lighter options, which are probably more appropriate to the climate, are excellent as well. I should probably drink those more often, but when I find a brown I love, I stay with it.

Another excellent brewery is Honolulu Beerworks. This one's about an hour walk from where we stay. Sometimes we hoof it and earn our reward, other times we just hop on the no. 3 bus. Either way we end up in a happy place. The best beer I ever had there was their 2016 Anniversary Ale, a barley wine aged 18 months in Cabernet and bourbon barrels. It was pure oak and booze. Of their regular production brews I'm partial to the South Shore Stout and CoCoWeizen.

There are a few more breweries in the area, but I can't speak to those. My wife says the new Maui Brewing Company location is quite nice, and I've heard good things about Beer Lab HI. We'll get to those one of these days.

And to mix it up a little, there are also several excellent brewpubs in town. Some of our favorites are Growler USA, Puka's at Whole Foods Market, REAL, and Square Barrels. If you know of others, please let me know in the comments. I'm always on the lookout for great places to relax and enjoy great beers. Mahalo and cheers!


  1. Nice piece, Geoff. Frothy but filling. 😺 How are you doing post-QC? I haven't seen much of your baseball reporting in a while.

    1. Thanks, Mike, glad you liked it. I'm doing great, still writing about baseball, though not as frequently as in the past. Hope you are well. We should grab a pint one of these days.


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